Castelluccio lentils from Umbria are tiny brownish jewels with a delicate flavor and a wonderfully tender texture. Like Puy lentils, they don’t disintegrate in the cooking, which makes them ideal for salads. You can get them from Italian or gourmet markets, or use Puy instead. This substantial dish, which is best eaten at room temperature, can be served on its own or with steamed seasonal greens such as broccolini or baby fennel.
Recipe from Plenty by Yottam Ottolenghi/Chronicle Books, 2011.
|5 plum tomatoes||1 1/3 cups Castelluccio lentils|
|8 thyme sprigs||3 tablespoons olive oil|
|1 tablespoon olive oil||1 garlic clove, crushed|
|2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar||Black pepper|
|Salt, for tomatoes||3 tablespoons chopped chervil or parsley|
|1 small red onion, very thinly sliced||3 tablespoons chopped chives|
|1 tablespoon good-quality red wine vinegar||4 tablespoons chopped dill|
|1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt||3 ounces mild Gorgonzola, crumbled|
To make the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Quarter the tomatoes vertically and place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top of them. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for 1 1/2 hours, or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool down slightly.
Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the vinegar and sprinkle with the sea salt. Stir, then leave for a few minutes so the onion softens a bit.
Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 1 1/4 inches above the lentils) and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a sieve and, while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Also add the olive oil, garlic and some black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the Gorgonzola and tomatoes as you build up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top and serve.
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